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Inside Detroit Rapper Trick Trick's No Fly Zone

The local performer talks rivalries, community and being the gatekeeper of entertainment in the Motor City

The now nationally infamous incident unfolded like a tale of Greek mythology—two rap titans at odds as a small army of "goons," Detroit police and concert personnel assembled for a looming turf war. Rick Ross, scheduled to perform around 11 p.m. during HOT 107.5's annual Summer Jamz show, was part of a superstar lineup that included hip-hop artists B.o.B., A$AP Ferg and Sevyn Streeter. Every performer was welcomed without issue—except Ross, who is on local rapper Trick Trick's "No Fly Zone" list. And, as a result, no longer welcome in Detroit.

"After nearly four hours of hip-hop groups and emcees rocking the mic, the audience was informed by Jay Hicks, HOT 107.5 FM's program director, that headlining artist and Miami-based rapper Rick Ross would not be performing," says Chene Park in an official press release. The release described a gang "between 100-150 individuals led by a local rapper" that threatened to harm Ross if he entered.

Ross played it cool, later tweeting: "Luv #Detroit I wuz ready to killm 2nite, heard it wuz a peace protest wit picket signs and locked gates haa." The peaceful "protest" was a power play, stemming from a disagreement on matters of respect. The two men have mostly remained tightlipped on the details—and, as a rule, Trick won't disclose the "crimes" of those on his list.

He explains in a public video after the Ross incident: "Grown men don't put grown-men business out to the fucking public."

Trick Trick on making news, new music and enemies

"You ever notice," says Trick—casually stuffing a cigarette paper with medical marijuana, at ease in his Livonia studio, "Any time Trick Trick done had a situation, I divert that attention right back to that artist? I don't want that shit on me, because I ain't here for that."

Trick is in the studio working on his new album Gatekeeper, which, he told BLAC Detroit, is set to drop March 13, 2015. The title is fitting for the 40-year-old Goon Sqwad hip-hop group leader and guardian of the No Fly Zone—a policy that simply states: If an artist doesn't support Detroit, you are not welcome here.

In response to the No Fly Zone, Trick has been called a bully, a thug and "everything that is wrong with Detroit."

"They can be pissed off about it," he says, "but it's working."

No Fly Zone in Detroit

The question at the root of the No Fly Zone, Trick says, is: What's in it for Detroit?

"Canada's government does the exact same thing that I do. Only difference is we gonna beat that ass. And I'm just saying if you are coming to Detroit, let me see why we should let you come here and pick up all this money. What are you doing for us?"

Ross is not the first artist to be added. And Trick guarantees Ross won't be the last.

"Because these motherfuckers aren't going to do nothing but keep doing people like this. And keep doing what they do if somebody don't stop them," he says, pounding his fist in his hand. "And sometimes, the motherfuckers just happen to be famous." Other names rumored to be on the No Fly Zone list include rappers Yung Berg, Trick Daddy, Styles P and recently, Wale.

"Guess who put him on the list! Judge Greg Mathis," says Trick, still in disbelief. Yes, that judge. The same judge with the popular syndicated TV show—who happens to be friends with Trick. "When I got the call (from him), I was a little twisted about that shit," adds Trick, who, true to form, won't disclose details. "But after I thought about it, I was like, well, shit man. I'm gonna endorse that."

He clarifies: "I don't have no problem with Wale. I like Wale. But homie, you better talk to OG Mathis. It's not just Trick Trick saying it, but I am saying it would be best if you go ahead and took heed to the (No Fly Zone)."

These are the laws of his land, Trick says.

"Only an ignorant person would go against the law of the land," he says. "Sometimes, a very heavy push of knowledge in their face will send their asses in a circle like a mouse with a trap on his tail."

Is he really a goon or god-fearing?

For some, Trick's No Fly Zone is considered nothing more than thuggish antics. But for Trick it is a form of activism.

"I stand for righteousness. It's all about righteousness and respect," says Trick. "How would I get 150 (people) to come down?

"They must be feeling some type of way."

Beyond what the public thinks of him—"I'm a monster!" he says, holding up his arms in mock annoyance—the only title Trick is comfortable with is "child of God."

"Being a child of God you are going to be an activist, a philanthropist, a messenger, a teacher, a leader. People are going to hate you. But you know, show me a leader with no enemies, and you don't got a leader."

Tired of the negative portrayals of that night at Chene Park, Trick says people should focus on what didn't happen.

"A lot of people neglected to mention I could have said 'kill him' to any of them. At any point in time, for some of these, I could have said, 'kill him' or 'get him,'" he explains, emphatically. The implication is clear: His followers would have acted on his word. "We are trained to hate and we don't even know it. I caught on to that. Unless some kind of order gets restored somewhere, it will get out of hand. But I do my part."

Christian Mathis as Trick Trick

Born Christian Mathis, Trick says there is a clear distinction between his rap persona and his daily life. "Trick Trick is The Hulk. It's like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde," says Trick. "Put it this way: Trick Trick is the one who is going to deal with that negativity."

His lead-with-an-iron-fist approach is something he attributes to his parents.

"I wouldn't call them strict parents. I would just call them 'zero tolerance,'" Trick says. "They had zero tolerance for anything that was disrespectful."

When he is not making or promoting his music, Trick is working around his eastside home or riding his bike down to the RiverWalk. "Christian" shows up in his passion for community, says Trick.

"Speaking engagements, soup kitchen, helping the homeless. Anything. I am involved in everything they call me for." And when people gripe about gentrification, he argues that they should stop its root cause—lack of community involvement.

"Listen. If you live in Detroit. And you own your home. And you take care of your home. That's your shit," says Trick. "They are not gonna send militia to kick you out your home. But they are going to come in there and clean that shit up."

Another part of protecting your community, Trick says, is holding members of the community to higher standards. Otherwise, troubled youth learn from troubled adults.

"And ain't nobody told them anything different. And that's what I do. That's my job as a child of God," he says. "All my trials and tribulations shall be lessons to teach others. I came from that same shit. But I made it to be grown adult, businessman, leader who can speak good things to masses of people through music."

And in making music, Trick has found purpose. "Because if you don't know what you are here for, you are like in the way. You're taking of space. I don't know how I am going to get that across, but it is in there, because that's in my heart. And everything that I am working on now is coming from the heart.

"You gotta be a tricky-ass leader like myself in order to get a message across." 

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